Fetire feared the outside breeze, thinking it carried the COVID-19 virus. The 14-year-old couldn’t make herself go outside. Her uncontrollable fear and anxiety changed her behavior, and she became irritable and distant. Her mother, extremely worried about her, couldn’t help. She, too, was terrified.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of vulnerable children worldwide. To combat this, Compassion center staff and volunteers in Ethiopia have started a phone call initiative where every child in the Child Sponsorship Program receives at least one phone call per week from a staff member.
The phone calls help staff identify the children who need further support, counseling and prayer. It was through the calls that Fetire received much-needed support from a trained psychologist. Since her center started the continuous phone counseling and prayer, the emotional health of its children has improved.
“I was excited to hear the voice of the staff from the center,” says Fetire. “My heart leaped with joy. For the first time since I stayed home, I felt hopeful. I told them I was depressed and don’t know what to do. They prayed for me. As always, it worked.”
Finally, Fetire is able to sit in her family’s small yard and enjoy the warm breeze. Her mother says, “The weekly phone calls have brought back my daughter’s beautiful smile.”
“Our joy is in strengthening and encouraging our children in this crisis,” says Letarik, the director of the center Fetire attends. “We are committed to coming out of this more united and our bond with our children even stronger.”